King David got married at least seven times, one more than Henry the 8th, and to be honest not all of them were because love was all around. He didn’t feel it in his fingers, or feel it in his toes when he married Maacah for example. It was probably more to do with her huge… tracks of land. The only thing we’re told about her was that her dad was a king. Aha. So most likely not love, actually, then.
More to do with stitching another kingdom into his. A useful arrangement with a king’s daughter.
David’s first wife was Michal. One of the few women in the Bible who fell in love. Unfortunately it was with Dave, who wasn’t yet king. At that point he was her dad’s nemesis. King Saul was deeply threatened by dynamic Dave, who could kill giants, play the guitar like Eric Clapton and was better looking than Robert Patttinson. When Goliath had been strutting his stuff and inviting the Israelites to send out their best man to fight him, their ‘best man’ was Saul. Head and shoulders above everyone else and just about the only Israelite with some decent armour to his name. But Saul didn’t step up, instead he let Dave do the job, and so the people made up a song about how Saul was okay but Dave was fabriffic. So then Saul married Dave to Michal in an attempt to keep control of him. But things deteriorated and when Dave did a runner in fear of his life, helped by the resourceful Michal, he promptly abandoned her. So the double-minded Saul married her off to someone else. She ended up bitter and broken from the manipulation of her husband and her dad.
Dave met his second wife whilst on the run from the madness of king Saul. Abigail was smart and drop-dead gorgeous. And way cleverer than her idiot husband Nabal, who nearly got them all killed when he refused to help Dave and his band of prodigal brothers. Abigail stepped in, brought loads of goodies for Dave and the boys, and tipped him the wink. ‘Don’t forget me if you ever get be king,’ she said, with a nudge nudge wink wink. She stopped Dave from ending up with her husband’s blood on his hands. Her man died anyway, and Dave did remember Abigail. Bring on the vicar, the best man and the embarrassing speeches.
Dave’s last wife wasn’t really his wife. She was someone else’s and not even Abigail could stop him from getting blood on his hands this time. He was fifty, idle at home, halfway through his forty year reign and perhaps in mid-life crisis territory, when he saw Bathsheba. And decided he’d have her thanks very much. Got her pregnant and in a fit of guilt arranged for her husband to be topped. From then on things slipped downhill… a whole other story.
All this is just to say that things don’t change much. David was described as a man after God’s own heart, or a man on whom God had placed his heart yet David’s life was far from perfect. He did some amazing things for God, but he made some massive gaffs too. And as a result of the gaffs we have songs like psalm 51. ‘Create a new heart in me God, give me a new start, because I have blown it.’ David expressed his fears and failures, hopes and dreams in his massive catalogue of hit songs. He was brutally honest and his guttural, honest worship songs are his great legacy to us. Plus, David’s chequered history bears witness to the God who is well used to working with flawed people who need huge regular doses of help and forgiveness.
This reminded me of the book I started reading a while ago… still reading…
Jesus Through Middle Easter Eyes by Kenneth E. Bailey
‘This chapter will focus on the stories of the four women who appear in the genealogy of Jesus recordedin Matthew’s Gospel, and ask why they are included……
Middle Eastern genealogies are expected to be a list of men…..
1. Tamar….. (husbands die, no son…. she dressed like a prostitute and managed to get pregnant from father-in-law….)
2. Rahab…… (gentile, prostitute….)
3. Ruth…. (moabite…..)
4. Bethsheba …. (my favourite bit of the chapter) The fourth woman in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus is Bethsheba, whom Matthew did not like. How else to explain the fact that she is included in the list but Matthew refused to record her name?…. She too has a story….. In the Middle East, men and women are exceptionally modest about exposing their bodies. But in this particular story (2 Sam 11:1-12:25), Bethsheba waited until her soldier husband was away fighting for Israel. Then she decided to take a bath in front of an open window ‘facing the palace’. Why should she spend her life with a lowly paid foreigner if she could manage to move in next door with King David? If taking a bath in front of an open window was all she ha to do why not give it a try?….. she knew what she was doing she was no fool…..’
I like the ‘naked’ truth. And it reminds me a lot of your type of writing and workshops….
Thanks for your blog always!
Absolutely stonking post Dave! Being a hugely flawed but passionate Christian myself, I have often felt an affinity with David. Here’s a man who was God’s chosen, and yet he acted like a gangster, a jack-the-lad, a man who in many cases you wouldn’t cross, in his early days anyway, and might cross over the road to avoid if he didn’t like you anyway! His early career seems to be more about blood-letting and raging battles than anything we might think of as being particularly holy. Yet this was God’s choice!
Dave and Saul; the perfect bromance, that turns sour by the day. If Saul could play guitar like Clapton, eventually ol’ Dave plays like Hendrix!!! Saul is eclipsed by the upstart, and Israel get the king they have always wanted. David’s story tells us that, if God chooses someone, although that choice might seem rather strange to the established churches and religious hierarchies, God knows exactly what He is doing! Yes, David IS hugely flawed, a womaniser, warrior and hard man, but God has bigger plans for little Dave, doesn’t He?!